I’ve been a Vice Principal of Distance Learning for nearly as long as I was a Vice Principal of Student Support (Discipline). Technically, my title hasn’t changed but the regular day-to-day duties have certainly adjusted. Nine months ago, my daily activities mainly included working with students to better understand and accept responsibility for their mistakes. Obviously, there was a piece of “discipline” to the job because certain actions could result in certain consequences. Regardless, I still had the opportunity to work with students daily and, hopefully, make a positive impact on their lives. These days, I come to a school where there are no students. Well, I mean there are students but they aren’t here. It’s a (mostly) empty campus except for the adults who choose to come in and work on campus. While I still find myself quite busy, it’s not the same. The best part of the job, which is interacting with students, is nowhere near where it used to be.
However, I keep reminding myself…This too shall pass. It won’t be like this forever.
It’s hard to remember that because I feel a variety of emotions right now. As I write this post, I feel emotionally exhausted by the world around us. You guys know me, I’m nothing but honest and I think it’s important to be honest and transparent during these times. The pandemic is emotionally exhausting. It’s hard to know what is real and true. It’s hard to know when you should appropriately worry. Distance learning is emotionally exhausting. There is a “wear and tear” that exists in distance learning, unlike anything in-person learning has ever had. It’s harder to engage students. It’s harder to get them to show up. It’s more difficult to provide the quality of education that we used to provide.
Yet…this too shall pass. It won’t be like this forever.
As I try to remember this, I begin to feel discouraged. I feel discouraged because things don’t appear to be getting better and, in fact, often appear to be getting worse. Cases continue to rise, which is putting us further into lockdown. The time until we can have kids back on campus feels like it keeps getting further and further away. It’s discouraging because I miss seeing students on campus. I miss seeing their smiles, goofiness, and happiness.
Again…I slow down. Stop. Remind myself…this too shall pass. It won’t be like this forever.
Then the biggest emotion rears its head. I’m heartbroken. I’m heartbroken for our students, families, and teachers. Mental health issues are on a rise. In my role, I have seen it firsthand and it breaks your heart every, single day. Kids are lonely, struggling, and scared. Their families might not know how to support them and, in some cases, they may not even have family that can support them. I’m heartbroken for our teachers. I see their hearts and how hard they are working for their students. They continue to try every day to engage students from a distance. I can see the discouragement in their faces as they share their concerns about not being able to reach all of their students. My heart breaks with them and I wish I could fix it.
Stop. Breathe. Remind yourself…this too shall pass. It won’t be like this forever.
I’m not going to lie. I think it’s going to be hard for a long time to come but it won’t be forever. It can’t. The world can’t handle this forever. Things will get better. I believe that because, well, the alternative is much worse. The alternative is to believe that it won’t get better. If I believe that, I will find myself in an emotionally unstable place where I am not able to best support our students, families, and teachers. So, I believe that it will get better. I believe that one day we will have kids back on campus – even if it is further away than I might have hoped. I believe that we will see their smiling faces. I believe that this will be better.
This too shall pass, friends. Take care of yourself and keep doing amazing things for kids. It won’t be like this forever.